Ezekiel, Jonah, and Pastoral Epistles by Patrick Fairbairn - 1 Timothy 1:5 - 1:5

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Ezekiel, Jonah, and Pastoral Epistles by Patrick Fairbairn - 1 Timothy 1:5 - 1:5

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Ver. 5. Now the end of the charge is love out of a pure heart, and a good conscience, and faith unfeigned. The charge ( ðáñáããåëßáò ) here meant cannot be the law strictly so called —as if ðáñáã . were all one with íï ́ ìïò or å ̓ íôïëç ́ —for the word is never so used; but it indicates the charge lying upon those who have a part to do in connection with God’s dispensation—the obligation they have to fulfil in order to carry out its design. They are emphatically persons under charge ( õ ̔́ ðï ðáñáããåëé ́ áò ), being put in trust with the scheme of God for the wellbeing of men, and so having love for its grand aim ( ôå ́ ëïò )—love in the fullest sense—love to God, the author of the dispensation, and love to mankind as the objects whose present and eternal good it contemplates. The possession and exercise of such love may be taken as the measure of one’s sympathy with the spirit of the dispensation, and preparedness for executing the charge which comes along with the knowledge and belief of its realities, and which rests especially upon those who are called to act as its more select instruments of working.—[The word ðáñáã . was probably suggested in this connection by the ðáñáããåßëῃò in 1Ti_1:3, and only makes general what was there given with a special application. Timothy was to charge the teachers in the church at Ephesus, who seemed in danger of turning aside from the right path, to beware of giving heed to things which were quite alien to the proper aim and calling of the evangelical office. And proceeding now from the particular to the general, the apostle briefly describes the nature of the charge which lies upon all true evangelists—what, from the very nature of the gospel, is and must be the heart and spirit of their calling. Comp. also 1Ti_1:18, 1Ti_4:11, 1Ti_5:7, 1Ti_6:13, 1Th_4:2.]

But as the apostle has indicated the relation of the gospel charge to love, so, lest the nature of love itself might be mistaken, he shows its connection with the internal state and condition of the regenerated man: it is love out of a pure heart, hence incapable of working to ignoble ends, or the gratification of corrupt desires, but issuing like crystal streams from a pure fountain; also out of a good conscience, properly responsive to the claims of moral obligation, honestly bent on following out its convictions of truth and duty; finally, out of faith unfeigned ( ἀíõðïêñßôïõ ),—a term frequently used to characterize the graces of the Christian character—love (Rom_12:9; 2Co_6:6), brotherly kindness (1Pe_1:22), spiritual wisdom (Jas_3:17); but when applied to faith, serving to indicate its reality and power as an internal principle, its living apprehension and firm grasp of the things presented to its view; hence widely different from that lazy assent to the doctrines of the gospel, that merely formal profession of adherence to them, which often goes by the name of faith. In specifying so many sources of Christian love, the apostle is not to be understood as giving a theoretical exposition of the matter, or presenting in strict philosophical order the relation of love to the heart, conscience, and faith respectively, or of these to each other. He is contemplating the subject in a practical point of view, and simply unfolding, in the order that seemed natural to him at the time, the several elements which must conspire to the production and exercise of genuine Christian love. In the order of nature, the unfeigned faith must undoubtedly be placed first; for in fallen men, laden with guilt and alienated from the life of God, there is no way of attaining to real purity of heart and a purged conscience but through faith in Christ. When through this faith entering, however, the soul is brought into fellowship with the realities of salvation, the bonds of its captivity are broken; it becomes re-united to the one source of life and blessing, and at once experiences and reciprocates a love which prompts it to a life of beneficence and worth. But considered with respect to practical working, the order adopted by the apostle is quite natural: furthest in, as the deep fountainhead of all the outgoings of Christian love, there is the purified heart; then, to regulate the actings of love, and determine their course and measure, there is the good conscience; and finally, to sustain and animate the soul in the varied works and labours proper to love, there is the faith unfeigned, embracing the glorious promises of God, and ministering strength from the things therein contained to its vital energy. Such, probably, is the order and relation in which these spiritual characteristics presented themselves to the mind of the apostle; and in the concurrent action and due subordination of them to each other will ever be found to consist the stability and progress of the Christian life.